And the new vice mayor is … Pat Burt

Pat Burt. Post file photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

It was no surprise that Palo Alto City Council tonight elected Councilman Tom DuBois as mayor for 2021, but when it came to vice mayor, council decided to pick Councilman Pat Burt, who served as mayor in 2010 and 2016.

DuBois’ elevation to mayor wasn’t a surprise since he served as vice mayor in 2020.

But selecting the vice mayor took two rounds of voting by the seven council members.

It started out DuBois nominating Burt.

Then Councilman Greg Tanaka nominated Councilwoman Lydia Kou.

Finally, Councilman Eric Filseth nominated Councilwoman Alison Cormack. Filseth pointed out that Cormack “gracefully broke the stalemate” and let DuBois win in the last year’s reorganization and earned the opportunity to be the new vice mayor.

In the first round of voting, Tanaka and Kou voted for Kou.

Filseth and Cormack voted for Cormack.

DuBois, Councilman Greer Stone and Burt all voted for Burt.

Nobody got a majority in the first round, so council had to vote again.

In second round, Tanaka and Kou didn’t change their votes and supported Kou.

Cormack voted for herself.

But Filseth switched from Cormack to Burt. Burt also got his own vote along with those of DuBois and Stone.

Four votes is a majority on the seven-member council, which means that Burt was elected vice mayor.

While Burt served as mayor in 2010 and 2016, as it would happen he’s never served as vice mayor in his nine years on council (2008-16).

When he nominated her, Filseth sang the praises for Cormack before switching votes, and told the council he admires Cormack because she is “disciplined, methodically and exceptionally well organized.”

“Alison got the most votes of any council candidate in the last 20 years, and potentially longer, so she’s got the community behind her,” Filseth said.

And then he changed his vote and elected Burt as vice mayor in the second round.

Different story last year

Last year, Tom DuBois and Cormack faced off for vice mayor, with Cormack’s vote breaking a 3-3 split on the council.

Kniss nominated Cormack, saying she received the most votes in the 2018 election and meets with residents during regular office hours.

Councilman Greg Tanaka, who normally votes with the pro-growth side of council, abstained during both the mayoral and vice mayoral votes, leaving Cormack the deciding vote between her supporters, Fine and Kniss of the council’s fading pro-growth faction, and DuBois’s slow-growth supporters, Councilwoman Lydia Kou and Councilman Eric Filseth.

Last year, Cormack first voted for herself, but in the second ground gave her vote to elect DuBois, saying it was the right thing to do.

This year, Cormack told the council she and DuBois had learned how to better work together and was “pleased” to support him with a vote for mayor.


Mayor is shown first, followed by vice mayor. An asterisk (*) denotes a year in which the previous year’s vice mayor became mayor. Before 1982, mayoral terms ran from July through June. After that, council converted to calendar-year terms.

2021, Tom DuBois, Pat Burt*
2020, Adrian Fine, Tom DuBois*
2019, Eric Filseth, Adrian Fine*
2018, Liz Kniss, Eric Filseth*
2017 Greg Scharff, Liz Kniss*
2016 Pat Burt, Greg Scharff

2015 Karen Holman, Greg Schmid
2014 Nancy Shepherd, Liz Kniss*
2013 Greg Scharff, Nancy Shepherd*
2012 Yiaway Yeh, Greg Scharff*
2011 Sid Espinosa, Yiaway Yeh*
2010 Pat Burt, Sid Espinosa
2009 Peter Drekmeier, Jack Morton*
2008 Larry Klein, Peter Drekmeier*
2007 Yoriko Kishimoto, Larry Klein*
2006 Judy Kleinberg, Yoriko Kishimoto*

2005 Jim Burch, Judy Kleinberg*
2004 Bern Beecham, Jim Burch*
2003 Dena Mossar, Bern Beecham*
2002 Vic Ojakian, Dena Mossar*
2001 Sandy Eakins, Vic Ojakian*
2000 Liz Kniss, Sandy Eakins
1999 Gary Fazzino, Lanie Wheeler
1998 Dick Rosenbaum, Micki Schneider
1997 Joe Huber, Ron Andersen*
1996 Lanie Wheeler, Joe Huber*

1995 Joe Simitian, Lanie Wheeler*
1994 Liz Kniss, Joe Simitian*
1993 Jean McCown, Liz Kniss*
1992 Gary Fazzino, Jean McCown*
1991 Jack Sutorius, Gary Fazzino
1990 Mike Cobb, Gail Woolley
1989 Larry Klein, Betsy Bechtel*
1988 Jack Sutorius, Larry Klein*
1987 Gail Woolley, Jack Sutorius*
1986 Mike Cobb, Gail Woolley*

1985 Leland Levy, Mike Cobb*
1984 Larry Klein, Leland Levy
1983 Betsy Bechtel, Gary Fazzino*
1982 Fred Eyerly, Betsy Bechtel
1980-81 Alan Henderson, Ellen Fletcher
1979-80 Alan Henderson, Byron Sher*
1978-79 Scott Carey, Alan Henderson
1977-78 Byron Sher, Frances Brenner
1976-77 Stanley Norton, Roy Clay
1975-76 Stanley Norton, Roy Clay

1974-75 Byron Sher, Alan Henderson
1973-74 Kirke Comstock, Enid Pearson
1972-73 Kirke Comstock, Stanley Norton
1971-72 Kirke Comstock, Stanley Norton
1970-71 Jack R. Wheatley, Frank Gallagher*
1969-70 Edward Arnold, Jack R. Wheatley
1968-69 Edward Arnold, Frances Dias*
1967-68 Frances Dias, Edward Arnold
1966-67 Frances Dias, William P. Rus
1965-66 Edward Arnold, Robert Debs


  1. Glad Pat Burt is getting another shot at leadership. What is this, his third try? Maybe he’ll get it right this time.

  2. I’m happy to see that the Residentialist majority has taken over both the mayor and vice mayor positions. I see nothing that happened in the past year that would make councilmembers think they should promote Alison Cormack to mayor. It would have been better to see Lydia Kou as mayor since she represents the views of so many more people than Cormack, but I’m sure she’ll get her chance. This new majority will protect residents from developers and unwanted high-density housing.

  3. I’ve heard it said several times that the City needs strong leadership during COVID-19. What exactly has the City been doing about COVID-19?

    1. The free testing the County offered was mainly in San Jose. Yes, a self-testing (?) kiosk just opened at Mitchell Park—NINE MONTHS after the pandemic started. The focus on testing over the past several months has been in San Jose, not here.

    2. If you want a vaccine, you better have a doctor through PAMF, Stanford or Kaiser because the City isn’t handing them out. No leadership on vaccines at City Hall whatsoever.

    3. When it comes to masks, I remember a really embarrassing council meeting last summer when council members desperately wanted to come up with more extreme rules than Dr. Cody to show how important the City was. But the council got bogged down into a debate about whether masks should be worn while people exercise outdoors.

    4. Then the City encouraged restaurants to buy tents to operate outdoors, and as soon as they got them up, the County banned all outdoor dining. The police moved quickly to get the restaurants off the streets even though the council had passed an ordinance (#5500) saying they could be there indefinitely.

    The City can’t provide much leadership with COVID-19 since it’s the County that’s calling the shots. But council members want to make it seem as if they’re at the forefront of COVID-19 response, even though the city is doing little to nothing to deal with the aftereffects of the virus.

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